Workers must see big picture

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some Lawrence County governmental employees appear to be out of touch with reality when it comes to the financial crisis facing the county and, ultimately, the entire nation.

The headlines are startling. The automobile industry is reeling as the big three in Detroit warn of massive layoffs or bankruptcy. The housing market is in crisis. National unemployment is at its highest in five years.

A recent report showed that Ohio had seen 118 layoffs of 50 or more workers in the past month alone. That total is more than double what it was a year ago.

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Yet some employees who work for the county are upset that their 25 or 35-cent per hour pay raise isn’t enough to cover anticipated increases in health insurance, regardless of the fact that the county’s health benefits package for most employees is significantly better than plans available in the private sector.

Lawrence County Sheriff Tim Sexton presented the commission with a petition from several members of his staff, asking the commission to get an independent opinion about the three insurance proposals they are considering, United Health Care, Medical Mutual and Central States.

These employees are absolutely correct that the commissioners need to fully and comprehensively investigate the county’s insurance plans. Insurance was one of the key areas state auditors said the county must find a way to cut costs or else face a deficit of $3.6 million by 2012.

But all county employees must also look at the big picture and realize that the increased cost of insurance may just be the reality of the situation of working for a county that must look to cut expenses. At least many workers are getting a raise to help off set that. Many Ohio workers aren’t even that lucky.

Individuals who work for private companies are going to be expected to make sacrifices during these uncertain economic times. Those working for the government — getting paid with tax dollars — are expected to do the same.